Back when I started in marketing over a decade ago, I was in charge of ordering newspaper ads, tri-fold brochures, rack cards, one-pagers, handouts, flyers, etc. and while some of these are still popular-ish today (who doesn’t like to fidget with a restaurant tri-fold on the table while they’re waiting for their meal?) the ways in which companies spend their marketing budgets has morphed to an almost exclusively digital realm.

Over at We Are Social, we learn that in 2019, of the 6.67 billion people on earth, 4.3 billion of us are internet users and 5.1 billion are mobile users with 3.48 billion of us on social media.

That’s a wide audience, and while it’s tempting to say that all you need to do is toss out the tri-fold and create a Facebook business page to reach new potential customers, the ability to monetize your online marketing efforts is nuanced. It’s no longer about the product because products are a dime a dozen. It’s about connecting with your audience in a meaningful way. How did we get here?

The Cookie, 1994

A young programmer who worked at Netscape developed the cookie, to try to understand a user’s browsing behaviours. Now it’s used by Amazon for retargeting.

It’s Hip to be on the Internet, 1995

That is a literal quote from Bill Gates, in 1995. While newscasters were flummoxed by the @ symbol and Al Rocker was decrying, “What is Internet anyway?!” as reporters tried to keep up with all the brouhaha, Bill Gates cut a handsome young Kermit and flicked his hair along with this endearingly earnest quip.

We highly encourage you to watch the video clip below, it’s priceless.

Google, 1998

One company to rule them all! Obviously, next to the Internet this was major. The first reference to SEO popped up around this time. Search engines, specifically Google, changed the way we find information, do research, shop, entertain ourselves and connect with brands. Search engines are what essentially connects us in the digital landscape.

Facebook, 2004

Data mining aside, Facebook forever changed the way we communicate and consume information online. Prior to this digital marketing milestone, we were able to get information online via websites only. Now, with local and global events, business pages, video marketing, PPC ads, stories and more marketers suddenly had a wealth of options for advertising and lead generation.

YouTube, 2005

The YouTube.com domain name was launched in February of 2005 and the first uploaded video was posted by co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo. By 2006, Google swept in and purchased YouTube for a cool $1.65 billion US. The first advertisements rolled out in 2007. With over 1.9 billion monthly users, it is an advertisers dream. According to eMarketer, video ad spending on YouTube will increase by 30 % to $27.8 billion, putting video advertising at 25 % of America’s total digital ad spend.

iPhones, 2007

The idea for the iPhone came in 2005 by former Apple CEO and game changer Steve Jobs. The first generation design was developed in secret for another two years before it was launched in 2007. iPhones and smartphones have revolutionized our access and connection to the internet, to brands, to products and services and to each other. With that accessibility comes a whole new level of marketing for the mobile audience.

Responsive websites, 2010

In response to the boom of smartphones and other devices like tablets, website design began to respond accordingly. The importance of responsive design for businesses can’t be understated. Brands selling goods and services online needed to redesign for fit and functionality across device sizes to avoid alienating the growing number of online users on-the-go.

Mobile First, 2016

Google slapped the world in the face with the importance of mobile-first design, making it a ranking factor for search engine result pages. This was a slight variation from responsive design, as it focuses on the user experience and functionality of a website’s core services and products on mobile vs. desktop. It essentially requires designers to create web designs for the mobile user first, before expanding out.

The Impact of Digital Marketing

With all the affordable options of multimedia advertising on search engines, social channels, websites and apps there are far more effective marketing strategies available that reach significantly more people than traditional print collateral. Online advertising is a massive business, but it requires analysis, research and outside-the-box thinking.

Throw your preconceived notions of what makes a good ad out the window and instead, spend time adapting to the digital advertising space. Invest in social listening to understand what information all those online users are interested in consuming and how they’re consuming it. Good marketing now is about online data, research, design and creative strategy.

We are Alpha Strategy, a full-service web development company that specializes in web design, digital marketing, technical services, SEO and more. Meet our team and learn how we can help you update your online presence to 2020 standards.

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